Bring to Me the Souls of Those Who Have Separated from My Church

Bring to Me the Souls of Those Who Have Separated from My Church April 7, 2015
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

We live in an apostate world, and that apostasy is itself divided into groups.

The direct and honest apostate leaves the Church. He or she walks out and shuts the door.

What I call “the apostate in place” continues, for whatever bizarre reasons they might have, to attend mass, sing hymns, and pretend to be what they are not. They then metamorphose into a practical unbeliever when they step through the church doors and walk out. Since I’ve spent so many years in politics, I am well and truly acquainted with apostates in place.

Apostates in place leave the Church in their hearts, but due to a fundamental lack of honesty, continue to use their church affiliation for whatever it is they think they can get out of it. These phony baloneys are among the meanest and most spiteful people I know. They are also, odd to say, among the most self-righteous.

When I was in political office, I had the opportunity to see them in both places. I observed them at Church mixing with people who actually believed and tried to lived the Gospels. And I observed them with the Christian-bashing crowd where they liked to hang their political hats. It was a disturbing visage, watching them make fun of the same Church that had so kindly offered them a spiritual home, telling sarcastic and demeaning stories about the people who sat next to them in the pews.

Then, later, I’d see them back at Church again, quietly passing as what they were not.

I have to admit it: I detest these people. They irk me. I do not respect them. And I do my best to avoid their company.

The honest unbeliever who is acting without malice is a person I can respect. I can trust them, and in situations where our interests coincide, I happily work with them.

I understand how a person can get so crossways with a church or a parish or a priest that they just get up and walk out the door. I did something quite similar once upon a long time ago. That walkaway of mine launched me into what I call my anti-religion period; 17 years of denying Christ.

I understand the honest walkaways. But I can’t fathom those who hide in place. How can they stand the life they live?

If it was up to me, I’d wash my hands of them until and unless they got their minds right and started speaking truth. If I was God, I’d pass these phony baloney apostate-in-place Christians by and not give them a glance.

But I am not God. And we should all be glad of that. The real God does not take such a short and harsh-minded view of human weakness, including the phony baloneys who are doing their best to rip Him off.

Jesus tells us “bring to me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.”

I think that He means those who have separated themselves in spirit from the Church, even while they are sitting in the pews as well as those who have walked out and slammed the door shut behind them. I have no doubt the those who are lying about their faith will be more difficult to convert that those who live in honest unbelief.

I also have no doubt that Jesus loves each one of them just as much as He loves me or you. He told St Faustina that while He was suffering and dying, these apostate souls tore at His heart. They added to His pain then, and they continue to inflict suffering on Him now.

Today’s prayer of the Divine Mercy Novena is for those who have, by their own volition, turned their backs on Christ and His Church. The time was that many people who walked away from the Church had reasons why they did it. A good number of them had been wounded by the Church in ways they could not bear.

That has changed now that Christian bashing and anti-Christian bigotry is the new fashion. Now most of those of leave the Church do it for superficial reasons of going along with the gang and adopting a popular pose.

Group hate-offs have become a kind of new community formation tool in our society. The fact that the communities that form around hatred in this way are a bunch of sick fools does not change this reality. In today’s climate the one group it is safe to hate without reservation is Christians. Just look at the Christian-bashing blogs on the internet and see what I mean.

You will see people trying to outdo one another in insulting Christianity and Christians. What you will not see is anyone calling them to task for being bigots and haters.

Today, when we pray the Divine Mercy Novena, Jesus has asked us to bring to Him the souls of those who have left His Church. He tells us that thinking of them added to the agonies of His passion.

But He does not ask us to discipline them or admonish them. He does not call down vengeance on them.

Jesus directs us to pray for them, to bring them and their sin-sickness to the ocean of His mercy and immerse them in the cleansing waters of eternal love.

Jesus’ Mercy is His final offering to us before the end times. It makes no difference whether the end of all time is imminent or far away. Our end time is always just around the next bend. In that moment when we step from life to death, in that last instance; even then, we can cry out to Him for mercy and receive it.

One of the people I talked about earlier in this post, a person who played Catholic at church and then made fun of Catholics and Catholicism when he was with his political cronies, died last week. He died without warning, in his sleep.

I have no idea what became of him at his passing. I only know that Christ’s mercy is so great that no sin we can commit can separate us from it. The only thing that can keep us from the Divine Mercy is us. We have to say no to avoid it.

Please pray the Divine Mercy Novena today. Pray for all the apostates you know. Pray that God will keep calling them until they turn back to Him. Then trust that He will do that.

Jesus asked us to bring to him the souls who have separated themselves from His Church.

I, for one, need to remember that the next time I get exasperated and want to walk on by these people and leave them to their dissolution. I have something I can do for them. I can bring them to Jesus and immerse them in the ocean of His Mercy.

In this way, I can heal myself, as well as them.

Fifth Day
Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church*,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion.”  

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son’s Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord’s original words here were “heretics and schismatics,” since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord’s inspirations and orders, she declared: “I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus ” I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me” (497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.

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6 responses to “Bring to Me the Souls of Those Who Have Separated from My Church”

  1. One more comment, I suppose… I’m not sure how you’re defining “apostates in place.” I suppose there are people who’ve lost all shreds of belief, but continue attending Mass for family or community reasons.

    But it’s not hyprocritical to continue attending Mass while still disagreeing with some of the church’s positions on the “hot-button” issues, you know what they are. It’s not “bashing” to honestly express such disagreement.

    Why don’t they just leave? “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

    They stay because they can still recite the Nicene Creed and mean it. They stay because praying the Rosary feels like talking to their mother, and the Litany of the Saints still feels like getting encouragement from their older sisters and brothers.

    They stay because they can remember when the American Catholic Church didn’t seem to think of itself as a branch of the Republican Party. They stay because they can remember when the Church emphasized its teachings on social and economic justice at least as much as its teachings on sexual matters. They stay in the hope of reconciliation among the factions which are currently busy sniping at each other; and in the hope of true and genuine reform of some of the issues which have led to the current state of affairs.

    They stay because the cast of their minds is still Catholic Still responds to the cycle of the liturgical year, still echoes St. John Chrysostom every Easter,
    Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
    Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

    Let no one go away hungry.
    Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
    Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

    Let no one grieve at his poverty,
    for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

    Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
    for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

    They stay for the sacraments. Because they are too Catholic, no matter how theoretically at outs with the Church (not implying anything about receiving while in a personal state of sin), to be content without them.

    This eternal fountain hides and splashes
    within this living bread that is life to us
    although it is the night.

    I am repining for this living fountain.
    Within this bread of life I see it plain
    although it is the night.

    (Seamus Heaney, paraphrasing St. John of the Cross)

  2. We’re talking about apples and oranges.

    I am not talking about honest people with honest doubts.

    I’m talking about flagrant liars and poseurs who go to mass and, in the case of the person I mentioned, make money off the Church and the trust church people placed in him, then go to his political cronies and work to attack the same positions that he made money off supporting. I am talking about people who degrade and mock behind their backs the same people that they suck up to when they are with them.

    I’m talking about class-A political opportunists and phonies.

  3. This reflection couldn’t have come at a better and more opportune time for me, Rebecca. I, too, have been praying the DM novena and was struck by today’s recommendation. Thanks for underscoring what I had been pondering.

  4. Well, you can meet those sorts anywhere.

    But it’s a question that progressive (for lack of a better term) Christians often hear from both non-Christians and more conservative Christians. “You disagree with your Church on Issue X? Why don’t you just leave?”

    It’s not always that simple.

  5. I once was in the position of going to Mass while disagreeing with many teachings I thought to be “unbiblical.” Then I heard Bishop Fabien Bruskewitz (sp?) from Lincoln, NE say,” the only difference between a dissenting Catholic and a Protestant is the Protestant has enough integrity to leave.”

    I thought about that and decided to do just that. When I left a dear friend sent me a Catechism and a book called “Surprised By Truth” which I read and as a result came back convinced and converted.
    Had I not publicly left my friend may have had no idea there was even a problem with my Faith and as a result taken no action.

    Perhaps a little more speaking the truth in love would jolt others also as it did me.
    I think some are afraid to confront and anger people for fear of them leaving altogether but if they don’t believe they are just Mass attending Protestants anyway.

    Obviously discernment and much prayer are needed in individual cases so one’s mileage may vary.